- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2009



Michael Barone (“Presidential patterns,” Commentary, Tuesday) notes that President Obama appears to possess the same supreme self-confidence President Kennedy did. My recollection is somewhat different. Mr. Kennedy may have been supremely self-confident and, like Mr. Obama, staffed his administration with “the best and the brightest,” but Mr. Kennedy concealed that confidence far better than Mr. Obama does. Mr. Kennedy’s self-confidence also was leavened by a wittiness Mr. Obama totally lacks.

Moreover, Mr. Kennedy, perhaps out of perceived political necessity, was deferential to his predecessor, President Eisenhower. Mr. Obama has been eager to change all of President Bush’s policies, from interrogation of enemy detainees to environmental policies, with a great deal of fanfare. Mr. Kennedy proved more popular than successful as a president, especially in foreign policy. The old proverb is “Pride goeth before a fall.” One can only hope, purely out of self-interest, that Mr. Obama’s cockiness and self-assurance don’t get the nation into trouble.

As for Mr. Bush, he shares a place with only one other president, James Polk. Polk waged and won the Mexican War, which brought America and democracy to the shores of the Pacific. Mr. Bush and Polk are the only presidents who have been vilified by their peers for waging successful wars. Abraham Lincoln opposed Polk’s Mexican War, but barely a decade later, as president, he led a war in which he retained all of Polk’s acquisitions.



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